United States District Court, N.D. California
TYRONE T. TAYLOR, Plaintiff,
GOLDEN GATE FIELDS, et al., Defendants.
ORDER OF DISMISSAL
PHYLLIS J. HAMILTON, District Judge.
Pro se plaintiff Tyrone T. Taylor filed this action on January 28, 2014 as a proposed class action, against defendants Golden Gate Fields, The Stronach Group (which owns and operates the Golden Gate Fields racetrack), Mike Rogers (an employee of The Stronach Group), and the California Horse Racing Board ("CHRB"), asserting three claims of constitutional violations under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the California Horse Racing Board, and possibly against the other three defendants, and asserting a state-law cause of action for intentional infliction of emotional distress against all defendants. Also on January 28, 2014, plaintiff filed an application to proceed in forma pauperis ("IFP").
On February 19, 2014, the court issued an order dismissing the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e) for failure to state a claim. The CHRB was dismissed with prejudice based on Eleventh Amendment immunity, and the class allegations were stricken (based on plaintiff's pro se status). The remainder of the complaint was dismissed with leave to amend. Plaintiff filed the first amended complaint ("FAC") on March 20, 2014.
Also on March 20, 2014, plaintiff filed notices of appeal of the court's orders denying plaintiff's motion to recuse the undersigned district judge, denying plaintiff's application for a temporary restraining order ("TRO") and order to show cause re preliminary injunction, denying plaintiff's motion to compel discovery responses, and dismissing the complaint with leave to amend. On April 4, 2014, the Ninth Circuit issued an order finding that the only ruling that was appealable at that time was the order denying preliminary injunctive relief. On May 15, 2014, the Ninth Circuit issued an order affirming the district court's denial of preliminary injunctive relief. The mandate issued on June 11, 2014.
The court now reviews the FAC pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915.
A. Legal Standard
The court may authorize a plaintiff to file an action in federal court without prepayment of fees or security if the plaintiff submits an affidavit showing that he or she is unable to pay such fees or give security therefor. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1). When a complaint is filed IFP, it must be dismissed prior to service of process if it is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary damages against defendants who are immune from suit. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2); see also Franklin v. Murphy , 745 F.2d 1221, 1226-27 (9th Cir. 1984).
A complaint is frivolous for purposes of § 1915(e)(2) if it lacks any arguable basis in fact or in law. Neitzke v. Williams , 490 U.S. 319, 328-30 (1989). A complaint lacks an arguable basis in law only if controlling authority requires a finding that the facts alleged fail to establish an arguable legal claim. Guti v. INS , 908 F.2d 495, 496 (9th Cir. 1990). Thus, a court may dismiss as frivolous complaints that recite bare legal conclusions without any supporting facts. Franklin , 745 F.2d at 1228; see also Tripati v. First Nat'l Bank & Trust , 821 F.2d 1368, 1370 (9th Cir.1987). The term "frivolous" embraces "not only the inarguable legal conclusion, but also the fanciful factual allegation." Neitzke , 490 U.S. at 325; McKeever v. Block , 932 F.2d 795, 798 (9th Cir. 1991).
In reviewing a complaint for frivolity, a trial court may "pierce the veil" of the allegations and dismiss those claims whose factual contentions are clearly baseless." Neitzke , 490 U.S. at 327. In so doing, the assessment of the factual allegations must be weighted in plaintiff's favor. Denton v. Hernandez , 504 U.S. 25, 32 (1992).
Where a litigant is acting pro se and the court finds the litigant's complaint frivolous within the meaning of § 1915(e)(2), the court must give the litigant notice of the deficiencies of the complaint and an opportunity to amend before final dismissal, unless it is absolutely clear that the deficiencies of the complaint could not be cured by amendment. Cato v. United States , 70 F.3d 1103, 1106 (9th Cir. 1995); Eldridge v. Block , 832 F.2d 1132, 1135-37 (9th Cir. 1987).
B. The First Amended Complaint
The underlying facts are as set forth in the February 19, 2014 order dismissing the original complaint. Briefly, plaintiff, a long-time patron of the Golden Gate Fields racetrack, alleges that he entered the racetrack on December 28, 2013 using a "Trainer's Card, " which entitled him to free admission. Because he had not paid to enter, the racetrack employee at the gate refused to provide him with a free program. Following a heated discussion regarding his entitlement to a program, racetrack security personnel were summoned, and plaintiff was eventually ejected from the facility based on the volume of his voice and his use of offensive language.
Plaintiff filed the original complaint on January 28, 2014, alleging violation of his right to due process, his right to freedom of speech, and his right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure, under the U.S. Constitution, and also alleging a state-law claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress. In the prayer for relief, plaintiff requested compensatory and ...